Frustrated Researcher P1

kitty thinking about food

I find myself to be a frustrated researcher. I have many ideas and concepts that I would like to investigate, but I do not feel that I have the resources to pursue them. I have a very strong interest in understanding the effectiveness of online/distance learning in the higher education environment with a particular focus on cognition and technology; I want to know how administrative decisions (or lack of) are guiding online education; and I am keenly interested in how instructor training of online education and instructor identification of his/her personal curriculum theory influences student satisfaction and learning.

I am interested in these topics due to the career path I chose several years ago, which put me in the forefront of online education at a higher education institution. I designed policies and procedures to facilitate the distance learning program from 1997 when everything was paper and video-based until 2012 when almost all aspects of course were entirely online. During this time in 2003 I became more interested in the instructional design aspects of teaching online and started helping faculty members create rigorous standards-based courses.

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to actually conduct research in these areas. I have however, been witness to anecdotal information during my 15 years with the program and have read journal articles and tried to incorporate solid research-based ideas into my support of faculty and the program.

Join me In Part 2 when I will talk more about my identifying a topic and next steps.

Batman

Oh, Batman!
funny gifs

funny gifs

Thanks GifBin!

How can you not laugh? But how did we get here, to this?

Before we talk Memes, let’s talk about digital storytelling.

Michael Wesch’s project is a great example of modern storytelling at its best; he calls it Digital Ethnography. “The Vision of Students Today”  video was a product of the “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” course he taught in 2007. This video was viewed more than 1 MILLION times in the first month it was online!

In his article, “A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do),”  Wesch discusses how this video resonates with students and educators at a deep level and how he could not believe that this “disheartening portrayal” was accurate. Would he have received the same response if he had written a scholarly journal article?

Image taken from Michel Wesch’s video, A Vision of Students Today

The power of media is evident in our society.  About $60 BILLION dollars is spent on Television marketing. Only about $30 BILLION dollars (same source) is spent on online advertising. So, yeah, media is king.

Voila! Memes are born.

Funny cats, cute babies, sad high school pictures, movie characters, and the most dreadful of all ,epic fails have all become iconic messengers. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus–that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects.”  And we love them, they are quick to read and if the modality is just right, effective and viral.

So, just to see if you have been paying attention to the most popular of memes, you should check out number the #2 meme here.

 

Information Control

Image representing Netvibes as depicted in Cru...

Do you have information overload? Are you tired of checking a million places for your social updates? I know I am. So I have been looking for a solution to help me improve my personal productivity which will also improve my professional development. I want to be able to see the important news feeds, twitter updates, linkedin info in one area.

First of all, lets talk Dashboards. What are they? According to several sources (Dendas, NetSuite, Wikipedia, SAP) dashboards are user interfaces that allow you to view real-time information, i.e. data, like “key performance indicators” (KPI) and real-time trends. Many times these are created very specifically for businesses to manage their productivity. They can provide analytics that are helpful in making decisions and monitor trends and they do this in a very visual, graphical way. One company, Data-to-Dashboard.Com describes a dashboard as a way of visually describing data in order to achieve goals.

The Netvibe Dashboard we will be reviewing does have a similar high-level data analysis capability for their paid accounts; however, we will be looking at Dashboards as a way to control information.

Does your browser usually look like this with a billion tabs open?

Yes, when we are researching information our information flow tends to look like this; however, when we are “just” monitoring our professional networks, do we really want to have this kind of information system?  Probably not, or at least I definitely do not. I am tired of information overload.

There are browser dashboards that can help manage this flow. The one I really like is called Netvibes. I am primarily interested in Netvibes for the following reasons:

  1. to help control the way in which my many sources of information is displayed
  2. to keep me connected to my social networks

Check out my Netvibes Overview Here:

 

Also you can check out another YouTube video by MrClarkYIS. He wanted to share how he is Using Netvibes for Teacher Blogs. He describes how Netvibes can be used to manage class blogs. Check it out!

Have fun Netvibing!

Connectivism in Action Part 2

My dance with  National Council of University Research Administrators-NCURA’s social web network.

courtesy of aka_serges photostream on flickr

I first looked at their Twitter feed and found that the majority of tweets (and I mean almost all) were pointing followers to their “YouTube Tuesday” sessions. The second most tweeted subject by NCURA was about conference dates and conference related things.  OK- on the surface really good stuff, but not immediate texts and links that I am interested in. Now I dig a little deeper and look into their 456 Followers.

Note: this is where the idea of Connectivism gets real. I am taking a respectable organization’s twitter account and peering into their followers AND I am allowed to. I am not hacking, this is public knowledge. Wow! It is like looking into someone’s contact list.

Behind Door Number 1: Trustworthiness

I see that  John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is following NCRUA, but decide that this Tweeter is focused more on health related topics and not general research related ideas, which is what I am searching for. So, although they are incredibly trustworthy, they do not meet my “follow” criteria.

Door Number 2: Lacking Tweets!

I click on another follower of NCURA’s tweets and see that this person has only tweeted 3 times, which again, does not meet my criteria. The tweeter I want to follow from this group will be an active twitter allowing me to learn something or attempt to build a professional connection.

Door Number 3: A winner! Trustworthy & Lots of Tweets that meet My Professional Needs

Next up is HarvardOSP or the Office for Sponsored Programs at Harvard University. At last, real potential. They only have posted 58 tweets, but it looks like this is a new account and is very active for September.

Furthermore, their content is exactly what I am looking to find : educational resources on the web, funding opportunities and critical issues in my field, news. I think this Tweeter would be a great one to do my next layer of connectivity research.

Door Number 4: Way off Topic

My next Tweeter to research was a woman with a very promising scientific profile. She also had 288 tweets. Awesome, or so I thought. When I dug further, many of the tweets were personal, some political and several had a lot to do with the Mars Curiosity rover, which is interesting , but not what I want to follow. So, she did not meet my criteria.

Door Number 5: Off Topic…again

Found a promising tweeter that is also followed by NCURA and HarvardSOP, so I thought,  “Perfect!” a real person I can follow. Unfortunately, his postings were a lot about sensationalistic news items and fewer references to research development.

During  my review of other resources/websites that I stumbled upon I found other golden nuggest of information and resources.

For some of these I know that I will have to  sift through the (yes, I have to say it) the Connections, I will find valuable opportunities to learn and connect with others in a way that I did not realize.

This is so, so, so very cool. I cannot tell you how much this assignment has meant to me, to my professional life.

Gold Mine for Sale!

My overall observation? It takes a lot of digging to find gold.

Connectivism in Action Part 1

“Tools are extensions of humanity, increasing our ability to externalize our thinking into forms that we can share with others.”  –George Siemens

courtesy of wlonline at Flickr

Completing this week’s blog assignment for Mathieu Plourde’s Social Networking class at UD #udsnf12, has taken me to a deeper level of understanding of the Internet’s capability to build bridges and expand my knowledge, to build my Personal Learning Network.

I have been welcomed into the rabbit hole and have found helpers along the way. I was afraid of the volume of information (still am a little), but now understand how to filter it and make it work for me.

And, now, thanks to this assignment, have seen the proverbial light by reading George Seiman’s artile on Connectivism. Matthias Melcher (who Seiman refers to in his article) even states that Connectivism is too broad of a concept to be harnessed with the restrictive label of a “learning theory.”  That Connectivism expands this parochial notion of education and pushes us to reach beyond the walls of an educational building, a teacher, a formal learning experience.

This is revolutionary stuff, my friends. This is MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), this is OER (Open Educational Resources) . This is the Web, or as Connectivism likes to describe this experience as the neuronal network, where uncertainty is certain and the paths are many. (At least, this is my current interpretation.)

I began seeing these connections when I started the first part of this assignment by researching professional organizations and their use of social media tools. The one I finally decided to review is the National Council for University Research Administrators (NCURA), which subscribes to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linked In.  Now for the fun part!

It’s not you, it’s the web…

Or should I ask, Can I Control Information Overload with Filters and Tools?

Clay Shirky

First of all, I love Clay Shirky! He really brings the message home, whatever he investigates. However, in his Web 2.0 Expo talk in NY (that we watched for Matt’s EDUC #udsnf12 course), I did not like his claim that

“all the solutions [web/email filtering solutions] are temporary…you have to take the volume increase for granted.”

No, I do not want to take the volume increase for granted! Yuck! Yet, hearing this is liberating. It’s not me, it’s the flow. I am not incapable. I just don’t have the right combination of filters set up. This concept is freeing, really and truly.  I will have to keep modifying my set up, but when I get overloaded, I know that it isn’t me, it’s the flow. As Shirky puts it we are in “post-Gutenberg economics.”

So, in order to manage this phase of info gluttony, I have investigated the following tools:

IFTTT (If This Then That)-an old adage from programming language, eh? I just started using this, but I think this tool will really help me increase my klout score. Is your ego interested in this? Did the Web 2.0 makers come up with this digital expression of online worth? We shall see…  Yet, I do like IFTTT because it allows me to (1) post in multiple places with one expression, (2) it also brings all the information I want together into my google reader-this alone will be awesome. (PS-be sure to check out article below–it looks like IFTTT is dropping TWITTER!)

Netivbes: I was totally enamored with PageFlakes (RIP) until they went belly-up and I lost everything I aggregated in there. I really liked their simplicity. But a new tool came along and now I can do just about everything in Netvibes. I am still learning the extent of this tool and am very excited to do more than collect urls and see my feeds from Facebook, Twitter, etc.. The aggregating tools in Netvibes are immense and I need to figure out how to best utilize them.

Tweetdeck is OK, but I “think” it can do the same thing as Netvibes. I think this tool would be really helpful if you had more than one Twitter account. I would like to hear other opinions about this.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hootsuite!! I think know I am going to really like Hootsuite! This may be my “go to” tool. I really like the straightforward interface and adding in all kinds of apps. I added my youtube subscriptions and they play right in Hootsuite! Awesome! And there are about a million more apps to add in like Evernote too!

So, what’s the difference between content curation and content aggregation? Well, this site really helped me out http://socialmediatoday.com/johnsouza/559293/content-curation-vs-content-aggregation-basics  and from that I have the following understanding.

From Secret Sculpture Garden

Content Curation means sharing other people’s content and information with my friends and connections in some awesome and very deliberate way, like using a website. Curation has my personal touch on it.

Content Aggregation means pulling a bunch of information together and not sifting through it to get the good stuff. This is usually via some sort of search process or aggregator that automatically pulls information in.

I am seeing the differences between the two in this way. Content Aggregation is like throwing a bucket of paint on the wall while Content Curation is like using many colors to create a beautiful mural.

from something else studios

What do YOU think?

Pintrest and Twitter and Blogs, Oh My! The Yellow Brick Road of the Web.

wizard of oz 70th celebration

This blog post is in response to Mathieu Plourde’s UD course, Social Networking (SN) week 3 question.

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home” (Ken Olsen, 1977) Ok, we can find this rather funny now, but 36 years ago, this sounded reasonable. Which leads me to consider how outdated my current personal feelings might be about social networking and where we will be 36 years from now. Can you imagine it? 36 years from now? (The year will be 2048 and I don’t even want to tell you that I will be an octogenarian then!)

Will we have found the yellow brick road or the poppy field? Probably a mix, if it is like everything else.

How do we manage it, so that it does not manage us? Stephen Mangat’s video describing how he is using SN was incredibly helpful. He described how he sets up accounts to automate information dissemination and then he sticks to a schedule to do particular tasks like professional development, managing monthly tweet ideas, etc.

1. So, I think the first plan would be to develop a social networking plan with a coordinating schedule and stick to it.

And then do not drive yourself crazy by checking it ALL of the time-this is a pitfall!

2. Create some type of management dashboard.

This semester for my project I will be exploring the use of the tool Netvibes. Tools like this allow people like us who want to participate in all things web with a way to manage, in one space, our links and our social media. If anyone would like to join me in this project idea, please let me know.

3. Utilize RSS feeds and email filters.

As Matt described these two options in class, I realized that these two concepts can really help clean up and organize my inbox. I started using the email filter, but still need to explore how I want to receive rss content.

4. And, finally, we need to pre-determine how we will manage our inboxes when we finally get a chance to go offline. Maybe email filters….perhaps??

In this article, 5 Tips for Managing Information Overload, the 5th tip says to “Disconnect Often.” I think this is truly helpful, but not if we are going to go crazy dreaming of an ever-populating in-box, twitter feed and the like. If you check out that article be SURE TO READ THE COMMENTS, one person talked about “more wired, more tired” and the lack of actually doing things of substance and truly finishing tasks. It sounds very similar to our class discussion from Monday.

All the best, I wish us much brain power this semester!

Oh, and just so that you know, becuase I was taking so long to write this post, WordPress logged me out and didn’t save anything. So…I had to write it again. Lesson learned, you wiley web, you!